Magazine article University Business

1:1 Admissions Approach: 6 Ways to Customize Admissions Outreach

Magazine article University Business

1:1 Admissions Approach: 6 Ways to Customize Admissions Outreach

Article excerpt

There was a time when colleges and universities could put their best marketing message out to the masses, and wait for students to respond and express interest. Today, it's about being aggressive without being pushy, being more student-focused without being intrusive, and being more open to digital communication without sacrificing authenticity. It's a fine line to walk, but getting the formula right can boost both applications and enrollment. Consider this: In a survey, more than nine in 10 students said they want communications from admissions offices to be tailored specifically for them, according to "The 2015 Social Admissions Report" from Chegg. Because a one-size-fits-all recruitment campaign no longer cuts it, here are six ways to customize student outreach.

1. Go granular

When officials at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, sought to drive up applications and enrollments for 201415, they shifted to a more targeted type of outreach. Personalized microsites (also known as PURLs, or personalized URLs) for students, powered by Boston-based Liaison International's enrollment marketing platform (EMP), were a major effort.

"As opposed to going to a .edu site, the website to which students are taken gives them the specific information they are asking for," says Keith Mock, vice president of enrollment management at Faulkner.

Administrators at the university can now segment student lists to create more precise messaging. After answering a few brief questions on a landing page, a student is instantly redirected to a PURL. At that point, Faulkner also generates a one-off print flyer that addresses the student's unique interests.

The EMP helps facilitate the electronic fulfillment, customized emails and personalized printed pieces, says Mock.

Juniata College in Pennsylvania has worked with Maryland-based Waybetter Marketing, which focuses on personalized education outreach, to give the schools communication plan a one-on-one feel, says Michelle Bartol, dean of admissions. Waybetter's role is to get students into Juniata's communications stream so that school enrollment counselors can connect with them. For example, after students describe their academic backgrounds, admissions officers can respond with information about merit awards the students may qualify for; other students showing concern about financial aid might get sent a cost calculator, Bartol says. "They get back an immediate response based on the information they put in."

2. Perfect the timing

Another benefit to Faulkners EMP is being able to see a ticker that shows how students are engaging with their PURLs or emailed responses. "In real time, we are watching students browse their page, and can see what they're clicking on. We can pick up the phone and call them," says Mock.

But does this amount to a form of cyber-stalking? The Chegg research found that 62 percent of students expect to hear from college representatives within 24 hours of requesting information. And they don't want just any scripted response. Student who request information may be used to getting a generic thank-you page, says Mock, "but we give them what they just asked for."

Allegheny College, also in Pennsylvania, was looking to better time its messages as well. Administrators turned to a cloud-based CRM from Enrollment Rx, built on the Salesforce platform. "Messaging is kicked off based on time, data triggers, date triggers and how long someone's been in the cycle," says Rachel Garza, associate vice president of college relations.

"We're becoming more comfortable with mining the data to know where students are in the application process, tracking their interactions with us and their responses to calls-to-action," she says.

Administrators can then customize their messaging accordingly. For example, in a monthly e-newsletter that goes out to all prospects, students will be prompted to take only the steps that are pertinent to them at that time. …

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